Does God Leave?

God will never leave you. Have you ever heard that? I have. All my life, it seems. You could call it the core theme of my childhood spirituality. This idea—the one of an omnipotently present God—both intrigued me and frightened me as a child. The good news (back then), was that if God were always around then I’d be bound to catch Him sooner or later.

I’d walk around and flip my neck—like some sort of weirdo—trying to catch Jesus in the corner of my eye. I’d pray and strategically leave enough room for my eyes to peek through… just incase. The freeway held great potential. It made sense to me, “Angels ride on the back of motorcycles.”

“Those aren’t angels,” my dad would say.

The Guardian

My great grandma had the guardian angel over the bridge painting in her bathroom—you’ve probably seen it somewhere along the way. Slightly crooked, her painting rested comfortably in the wall above the toilet—as permanent as God’s Word. I assumed it had always been there and always would be. Most plausibly, the painting was a gift, given by the house itself and birthed from its foundation.

To me, the painting was nothing but a stark reminder—angels watched you pee. I blame my shy bladder on this haunting print.

Then there’s that Footprints poem. (Don’t get me started).

In 200 years, I’m curious if Footprints will be canonized into scripture. Maybe we’ll be giving piggy-back rides in church on Sunday as an act of worship.

“God will never leave you. There’s guardian angels and footprints in the sand.”

An Example or Two

From youth we’re taught the doctrines of our faiths and of God, as concrete as a grandmother’s painting. Then we get older and read scripture for ourselves; sometimes, our doctrines turn to sand. Sometimes we discover our beliefs were never written in stone, but passed down through magnets on a fridge.

A couple Bible passages have recently revealed some startling news. God does, in fact, leave. Often in the most troubling of times, too! I’m not talking Bruce Almighty vacation or anything, but it would seem apparent that He leaves us, individually, from time to time.

God left Samson in Judges 16. God left Israel in 1 Samuel 4.

I don’t bring this up to unnecessarily riffle any feathers. It’s in the Bible and I believe it’s worth talking about. Hopefully you’ll want to join in on the fun.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Maybe it’s in response to sin. Sin is forgiven under Christ; sure, but there’s still consequence. Does God temporarily leave as a consequence to sin? (These may read as rhetorical, but they’re not. I’m asking you).

Maybe it’s an assumption of the Bible writer. Regardless of what you believe about scripture’s origin, it makes sense that each Biblical writer had a cultural and linguistic lens through which he or she wrote.

Maybe God is incapable of leaving his creation. This feels most comfortable to me, though I hesitate saying it. God is not a math function; there is no limit we can assign.

Maybe this was Pre-Jesus. The smart readers/bloggers out there may have a verse or two (or a personal experience) to back this theory up. I’d be interested in reading those.

Whatever the outcome may be, we most likely won’t fully know it anytime soon. Until then, I’ll continue to look for God where I can—in the corner of my eye, in every blade of grass, on the freeway, in my heart, in my friends, in my family, yes, even WordPress.

Even WordPress.

Well, what say, you?

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35 comments

  1. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:

    “The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?”

    Hebrews 13:5-6

  2. I believe that God is incapable of leaving us. The verses that you cited were in the Old Testament, and were, by chance, a result to sin. God could not bear to even look at sin. That’s how it was when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). But, the Bible also says that, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). We can live knowing that because of Jesus, God will always be with us. God sent Jesus to die for our sins so that we might have a relationship with Him. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9) Jesus was able to mend the broken relationship of mankind with God because he died for ALL sin. Maybe God did not always make Himself visibly present in the Old Testament, but we can be certain that He will never leave us now. He may not always answer our prayers right away, or even in the way we want them answered, but He hears us, and is always in our hearts, as long as we seek Him fully. “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ ” (Matthew 22:37) If we fully accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was risen again on the third day so that we may spend eternity in heaven with Jesus, we will be saved and forgiven of our sins. And because of that, God will never leave us. But, what’s even cooler than that is that God loves everyone. The sinners. The broken. The lost. He loves us because we are His creation and because of Jesus. As I already shared, He loves us so much that He sent his ONLY son to die and suffer and feel the weight of every sin ever committed, past, present, or future, as well as sorrow, hurt, pain, anguish, and so much more so that we can have that relationship. I hope this is helpful. I apologize for the long comment. I just wanted to provide scriptural proof that God will never, ever leave us, and that is something to be so joyous about and to praise our Lord continually for.

  3. I think God is in the ultimate space that nothing inhabits, in the silences between thoughts. He is so small that he can travel anywhere and be in the depths of everywhere. I cannot see him or feel him most of the times, but when i feel him or feel IT, OMG. I am filled with love.

  4. I’ve asked this same question a thousand times, it seems, and throughout my faith journey I feel like I’ve come to a thousand different answers. Most of them just guesses and stabs in the dark.

    God is a haunting mystery to me. Absent when I feel he should be present most, and yet present always in the silence. Never speaking, but perhaps nudging me to get up, to try again, to keep moving forward. Every time, what seems impossible always gets overcome, and the things I fear always tend to pass one way or another.

    Whether that’s just life, or God looking out for me, I’m not really sure. But I’d like to think he is within us and around us everywhere we go. Sometimes we just have to be still long enough to sense him and be reminded.

  5. I think you’re talking about different things simultaneously. I think when the Bible uses the language that God forsakes certain people (Samson) or peoples (Israel) it’s a personification of His “blessing” leaving them…basically the opposite of “The Spirit of God rushing upon them” like in Judges 14:6 and elsewhere. There are certain things we know from other parts of scripture–such as “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and that He is omnipresent in a certain sense (Psalm 139:7-12). If God is omnipresent, how could His Spirit rush upon someone or leave them? I think it’s because you’re supposed to understand this as a different, special, kind of “presence.”

    Also, when you say God is “incapable of leaving creation,” I think that’s a misnomer too. Because God isn’t IN creation in the pantheistic sense. He came into creation in the form of Jesus. But since God is the Creator, then He is already inherently separate, other, from the creation. Creation points to God (Romans 1:19-20).

    And as far as a difference between these events being “Pre-Jesus” or not, I don’t think that’s quite fair either. We serve the same God in Christ as Israel did in the Old Testament. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, not the abolition or replacement of them. I’d dig a little deeper into this if I were you 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on j19501946's Blog and commented:
    You are not getting it ill try again the new holy spirit of living truth in the man named christ jesus as written his people whom the world refused didn’t want are his people. who now are enough to vote in obama and keep him in to make the rich wiked non forgiving worldly creatures with their police gov armies at the ready to kill fight spy with their tecnology to destoy and kill this. unknown power that is working very fast at making fools out of their rich in money knowledge. in the name of christ jesus the good god alone. as jesus christ himself declared he. asked for no help. he will only share his glory with the persecuted which is not asked for but given which they say the old is good enough well what say ypu is it not written the foolishness of christ jesus. is wiser than all worldly wisdom through their ignorance and stuppidity not knowing the truth wil save them if they keep their mouth shut they will be considered wise but can they ha ha

  7. I think the issue here isn’t with God leaving us or not but our perception. Both the Old and New Testament has instances of people crying out to God in their belief that he has left them, including Jesus on the cross referencing Psalm 22. Whether or not God is actually leaving is up for debate for I think most of us believe that God is everywhere all at once. Still I have a hard time arguing with Saint John of the Cross when he says “Spiritual persons suffer great trials from the fear of being lost on the road and that God has abandoned them…” Perhaps God doesn’t ever leave but he can make it feel like he has but it is always for some purpose.

    1. Mike,

      I think it is your response that I agree with most. I would say that God never leaves (not because He can’t, but because of His love for us). It seems wise to say that our perceptions differ, not God.

  8. Alot of good things have been added here in this conversation. I would just add to the ‘side’ that God doesn’t leave us. The first ‘coming’ of Jesus (just using the terminology, not trying to get into a different topic) helped demonstrate that; there were plenty of opportunities/reasons for him to leave his followers and he stayed. The Cross changed everything too. From how I see things, sin no longer can separate God from Man because He came down as a man and became sin so we could live in that newness of life he promised. Keep it up man!

  9. Maybe I’m way off base relating this to my relationship with my son, but I don’t think I will ever leave my son. I may step out of the room. I may physically die. But the very fact that I birthed that baby and my genes and history are flowing through him means that there is NO way I am going to leave him. I think that works with God, too.

  10. God completely leaving us? No.
    But, I do feel that God might distance himself to remind us of how much we need him. The most frustrating part is trying to figure out what might bring Him back. I hate doing it, but I do sometimes think of God as a puzzle oriented video game. If you do this, that and this, in the correct order then the door unlocks. Good topic for conversation though.

  11. This is an interesting concept to think of and has been brought up lately in a Bible study that I am part of. My reply to this is that God doesn’t leave us, rather we fail to recognize Him at times. In Romans 8:38-40 it states that “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This separation that Paul is speaking may be what you are speaking of in regards to God leaving us.

  12. As a few other commenters have mentioned, Christ’s cry “Why have you forsaken me?” echoing David’s cry in Psalm 22 is incredibly relevant here. As he is quoting poetry, it is possible that this is a metaphorical cry, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, seeing as the rest of the psalm he is referencing is prophecy. “They have pierced my hands and feet… they cast lots for my clothing” (from Ps 22:16, 18). These were literal occurrences. Why should his cry to the Father not be literal as well? I see no reason to pick and choose some parts of the Psalm as literal and some as metaphorical. Further, Christ’s suffering was ultimate. Infinite. It had to be, in order to cover the sins of the world. It seems to me that distance from the Father would have to be an integral part of that suffering.
    If we take Christ being forsaken literally, why should we not take the rest of the OT references as being literal?
    Your first idea–that God forsaking individuals is a temporary response to sin–makes a lot of sense. A righteous God cannot bear injustice, so he turns his face away and Christ covers our sin.
    Looking at the cultural and ideological background of the writers is definitely worth pursuing as a means to understand what they are saying, but I don’t have the space the knowledge to delve into that now!
    The idea of God being unable to leave creation is comforting, sure, but why not? What scriptural evidence is there for this? Maybe there is proof, but I can’t come up with any, so I’ll withhold from swinging too far in either direction on that one.
    And the fourth one, the pre-Jesus idea. Sure, that sounds nice, but again, what evidence? I’m inclined to read the verses of the “I will never leave you nor forsake you” variety as referring to either a very specific audience, meaning they cannot be applied to Christians at large and in general, or that the word “forsake” should be read in an eternal sense. I’d have to delve into the Hebrew/Greek to support that, but that’s the way it seems right now. And I can’t come up with a reason that it would be okay for God to leave OT individuals but not okay for him to leave post-Christ.
    So, essentially, I don’t have an answer either. It’s comforting to quote those handful of verses about Him never leaving nor forsaking us, we have to read those verses (as well as every other verse) in their proper context. I’d hesitate to say that God can’t, though.

    1. Elise, thank you for the well-written response. I specifically liked your point, “A righteous God cannot bear injustice, so he turns his face away and Christ covers our sin.” Maybe God’s temporarily leaving is as simple as Him turning His face away.

      In the end, I also hesitate to claim that God is incapable of doing anything.

  13. I believe the Bible teaches that God will leave us if we reject Him by sinning. Also of note is that God did not change in between the New Testament and the Old. God cannot change. I’ll give you some verses to look up about God leaving us. if you feel so inclined. (John Chapter 15:1-6, Hebrews 12:12-29, Hebrews 10:26-31, 26:37-39, Heb. 6:1-6, Heb. 3:12-19.) There are many more but those are a good starting point.

    Also of note is that the verse, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is found in Deuteronomy 31:6. The writer of Hebrews was quoting from there. God will never leave and forsake those who are abiding in Him. But if we reject God He will reject us. I don’t believe every mistake we make condemns us, but if we live a lifestyle and pattern of life of ungodliness the Bible teaches that God will reject us.

    Just my thoughts. Good post!

  14. Perhaps in the Scriptures you cited here the writer experienced God’s silence in such a way that it seemed as though God had left the scene. So many more passages explicity state that he never leaves us. Perhaps when we are ready for more devotion, he pulls back and allows us to search anew for Him.

  15. I posted these truthes to try to wake christian fools with their bribes in their hearts which kjv is written a gift of something like money behind your back no. It is written wrath in their hearts which is verbal christian diarea. That fills their hearts running out of their mouth right clean out to the end of their pointing finger no the leader of the world will not leave you he can’t as written nor can you turn on him only your decision to forgive your brothers and enemies and any one else you can think of. This alone will heal the world of. No persecution did you think the world would not be judged their father the devil has no intention of judging his worldly rich phone 911 help me god. Their gov make us a new law send in our army go to our god given doctors so we can say what we want oh we like being made fools. Of we like the way mother nature is pouring out its dissatisfaction only as much as they can stand they pray to their father god to stop it nor can he stop his worldly heavenly heavenly christians from judging each other when they were told to judge themselves. You want. Someone to blame the book of. John jesus christ went to the cross with a troubled spirit he asked simon peter to. Tend his. Sheep. Gideons older edition but the beloved worldly read and loved kjv and amp. Bibles read. Feed the sheep with your food banks and your knowledge of truth you kicked god out of your schools is it not written the devil would rule the world for 40 yrs 1950 to 1990 he has his. Glory as written god alone in christ jesus has blessed his children whom the world was not a people but now are a people they judge no one help. Where they can they are the meek as written to drive the masses of traditional christianity jealous. Which is now happening On Jun 11, 2013 9:52 AM, “The Number Kevin” wrote: > > Kevin Daniel posted: “God will never leave you. Have you ever heard that? I have. All my life, it seems. You could call it the core theme of my childhood spirituality. This ideathe one of an omnipotently present Godboth intrigued me and frightened me as a child. The good new” >

    1. I have to say I have no idea what you just did…that’s a lot of words and not much of it makes any sense. I’m curious if there is a language barrier here? There were a few excerpts in your monologue that caught my attention…perhaps one day it will all make sense…

  16. One verse says that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but then there was Jesus Himself hanging on the cross, nearing death and crying out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”. Here is a rather well written and informed article on the subject. ( http://carm.org/questions/about-jesus/why-did-jesus-cry-out-my-god-my-god-why-have-you-forsaken-me ) As for God leaving us…I like to take the Song of Solomon approach and look at it this way, He doesn’t leave us until we first leave Him, but if we seek Him we will always find Him. He is as far away as a lovesick bridegroom. (SoS 5:1-8)

  17. Excellent post. There is no doubt that, in Scripture, God at least temporarily turns His back on those who have turned their backs on Him. The good news, however, is that Jesus bore on the cross the full consequence of God-forsakenness over sin such that all who receive Christ are forever restored to the Father’s embrace.

    1. Tony,

      the picture wasn’t so much a “bug” as it was a monster. But don’t worry, it looks like it was all just one big misundastandin’.

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

  18. Enjoy your blog –
    So does God leave – right now, with my book ranked at 836,000th place, logic would say, God has left the building.
    But, I know what I heard and I obeyed and wrote my book – so maybe God doesn’t leave, but it sure be nice if he cleaned my ears every once in a while – that’s kinda gross – sorry.

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